Games: Everything should have a purpose, and you shouldn't need a Wiki

Yeah I disagree on the wiki thing. A game should be playable, yes, but if some of the depeer features or unorthodox options are wili fodder? That’s ok.

Case example for me? EU IV. There are some tags that are only achievable through specific criteria. Want to form the kingdom of Jerusalem? Well you can, but look at the wiki to find the exact requirements. Want to do some absurd religious conversion to become the HRE emperor as the Turks? Well have at it! The game won’t tell you exactly how to do this, but some time on the wiki learning the deeper mechanics will.

That is info that isn’t needed to okay the game. But it is entirely a power player for the fun of it approach that works best contained in a wiki. Also I can research those things while… not able to play the game. Like, say, a lunch break at work.

I think there is a distinction between looking up finer points and strategy or very high end tactics on a Wiki, and just having a bunch of items that are “what the hell am I supposed to do with this?”

When it boils down to “click these 20 items in various combinations with 20 environmental features and see whether any of them randomly do something,” then it’s just silly. You’re basically just doing combinatorics, not playing a game at that point.

Give me something that makes me feel like I actually figured it out based on clues and guidance. Not just randomly pushing buttons until something works.

I’d like to point out Final Fantasy 11 as a great (awful?) example of an MMO that basically requires a wiki to play.

It came out before WOW made things like quest markers common. One of the quests that sticks in my mind is the one to unlock the Corsair class. The quest is pretty literally to “Find me a blue rock” with no further explanation or hints. If you don’t use a wiki you have to wander until you: eventually, at the back of a dungeon on the other side of the world, full of mobs that will one shot you, that you have no reason to enter in the first place, find a locked chest containing a blue rock… Or you can read the wiki, shout for help from a max level player, and get the rock in about 20 minutes.

Why did I spend so long playing that game?

I’m still not sure if Don’t Starve is a good example of this. The basic game is structured around the need to play the game over and over. In fact, the beginning portion of the game actually gets more fun the more times you play because you understand the game more, and you know how to do more things and how to do them faster. So it’s basically structured for you to try things, fail, try things, succeed, try things, fail, and die. Then on the next try you do the things that were successful and you try something else.

I’ve never looked up a wiki for the game, and for the first 80 hours or so, the game has been fine without it. Now, did I know any of the stuff mentioned by Slyfrog about burying a skull or trading things to the Pig King? No, I didn’t know that. That sort of stuff wouldn’t have occurred to me, but that seems like easter egg stuff, not something I need to survive.

The Dark Souls game won’t even let you figure out how to play the DLC unless you crowdsource it and go look it up. It does force you online and forces you to look things up, and the game does seem designed around the idea of players crowdsourcing things. They even built that into the game using messages. So other players leave behind messages. But the messages can never be detailed enough to let you access the DLC in the original Dark Souls, for example. You really do have to go online to figure that one out.

That’s one of the various points I decide the game isn’t worth the bother (The last distinctive case I remember this happening to me was Darkest Dungeon).

Yes, this is another great example.

(Which is also a third category - I love it when a game doesn’t make me take notes or remember things that I’ve already done. Darkest Dungeon has a ton of those things where item X modifies a trap, or interacts with a trap to give you another item, etc. Okay, fine, I can discover that by exploration, but then don’t make me remember which of the 30 items in the game I’m supposed to use with which of the 30 traps. Once I’ve figured it out in game, put something into the game that reminds me, or autofills it in the future, etc.)

Same here.
If a game isn’t even playable and you’d have to consult external information just to get started, then that’s bad design.
If there are are so many mechanics, strategies and simply depth in a game that it simply couldn’t all be easily conveyed to the player, then something like a wiki is just the right thing to do. Or good old trial and error.

As others said, figuring out parts of the game yourself is part of the fun, for many even a big point to play a game to begin with. If there is nothing to figure out, then the game just isn’t very deep - which is fine for some games, but certainly not all.

The thing is… What seems like just randomly combining items to you, might be perfectly logical and/or intuitive and/or fun to another person.
A game really only has a problem when a majority of the intended target audience has these issues. If it bothers you so much, the game might just not be for you. Which isn’t that unexpected, given that nobody likes everything.

While I agree that everything in a game should have a purpose, that purpose might as well be to mislead and trick the player. An entirely useless item to build seems to be part of that - I could imagine “Did you build the “thing” yet?” to be a fun topic within the community. Both to poke fun at noobs and to reminisce about the time when you were a noob yourself.

I knew someone who decorated their house in Morrowind with entirely useless items, dropping the framerate to single digits. Just because they could. Which just shows that even if the developer puts something in that really doesn’t have much or any purpose - it might end up having some anyway.

Not long ago I rage uninstalled a game after spending hours trying to figure out how to progress, then looking it up to find you had to do some obscure, unintuitive, unhinted at thing. I think I ranted about it here. I wish i could remember what it was though… I don’t want to install it again by accident!

Yes, this for sure

Especially for those of us who frequently take breaks from games, only to return and go “what was going on? What are the controls? What am I supposed to be doing?”

In the case of Darkest Dungeon, I thought this mechanic was just obnoxious and didn’t bring anything at all to the game. I guess they kept it only to claim there was something besides encounters in dungeons and to justify walking your way, but that should have been dropped.
Armchair game designer out.

Are you talking about the use of items during interactions like bandages or shovels for positive effects? Didn’t one of the later patches highlight the best/correct options once you’d selected them the first time, or something?

Can’t tell: I was gone!

I think you’re right Scott. I think that was there the second time I jumped in.

In the case of Darkest Dungeon I probably went through the whole game, twice, without knowing a lot of item interactions with the dungeon features. It isn’t required to play through game. Maybe one could say I played the game sub-optimally, but it really didn’t matter after a certain point because the difficulty hits a cap and turns more into a weird RPG puzzle with attrition.

Why is this better in an external wiki instead of in the game?

Because the multitudes of options, especially for things like formable/ releasable nations, work best as a linked index rather than tooltips. Because I don’t want to spend my time playing a game reading instead of playing, and because I can read it while not playing.

I have extremely limited game time. Sub 100 hours a year. I have played zero hours in the last month. I would rather spend down time outside of game time reading things like that, than my extremely rare gaming time.

There can also be a wiki inside of the game, some (rare) games do that. It usually isn’t done as game UIs simply aren’t made to contain a format like that, with clickable links, image inserts, etc. etc. It would also have to be maintained by the developer, unlike an external wiki which flourishes if maintained by the community + developer.

The point is that - for more complex games - you simply cannot put and explain everything within the game in a non-manual-like way. It’s just not doable.
If this manual is text within the game or text outside of the game isn’t too important IMO. Not important enough to demand every developer spend their time on an in-game wiki, anyway.
It’s cool when it is there, bonus points. But I wouldn’t demand it as long as you can read it up somewhere.

I don’t know if it’s quite the same wiki-objection as something like Don’t Starve, but it annoys the hell out of me in the Borderlands games that all of the legendary weapons have a line of red text that’s basically flavor text that gives you a hint as to what special thing the gun does, but you need to try them out to figure out what they do and sometimes it’s not real obvious, so I have to Google them on my phone or write down the gun names and look them up later.

You know what is fun for me? In a game like EU IV or Kerbal Space Program researching a topic, coming up with a plan, and hen executing it. With external wikis I can spend time outside of the game to do that. Have some down time at work? Read up on gravity assists and orbital transfers, the gravity wells of various planets, and formulate a strategy and flight plan. Then, when I have an hour to game, I spend that time executing that plan, rather than spending all that time planning.